Where do you start when describing this past season of MoMA’s In the Making program, offering free art and technology courses to an ever-evolving community of NYC high school students each spring and summer? We could begin with the first day of classes, perhaps, when the hundred or so new participants make their way to the Museum for the first studio session, many walking through our doors for the first time ever. The young artists in Destroy Everything: Tearing Things Down & Building Things Up began the season with a very appropriate introduction to their theme. Upon entering the studio they were confronted by a series of huge, monolithic white cubes, the teens chose from a selection of functional tools (axes, crowbars, saws, chisels, and more), which were then used in a performative activity that smashed the structures down into bits. The remains of these monoliths were then built back up by the class to form a secondary sculpture that was covered in words and phrases, reflecting their recent destructive experience.
But maybe it’s better to start even earlier—with the community of artists we assembled to develop, plan, and run each of these programs. This season we worked with three amazing new additions to the MoMA In the Making family. The first new members were the brother-and-sister-duo of Ali and Rafia Santana, multidisciplinarians who brought their unique blend of musicianship, audio production, video editing, and projection-mapping skills to our CLICK@MoMA: Spatial/Augmented/Reality course. Focusing on the intersection between visual art and technology, the group worked together to create a series of large-scale installation pieces that blend found-footage and student-created soundtracks with image-mapping technology to essentially “fit” each video projection onto a handmade sculptural space.
Our other new addition to the MoMA Teens community was artist Adam Parker Smith, who brought his own aesthetic interests to play during our I AM a God! Artists, Obsession & the Cult of Celebrity Culture course. Using his talents as a multifaceted sculptor as a starting point, class participants explored critical issues surrounding our culture’s seemingly never-ending thirst for celebrity gossip, behind-the-scenes access, media circuses, and personal tragedies. Using photography, performance, sculpture, and printmaking as their mediums in this exploration, particpants tore apart preexisting ideas surrounding celebrity branding and the schism between our personal and public identities.
But we could also begin by exploring the multitude of different art-making tools, materials, and techniques that we brought into the studios and experienced together. From paint to clay, carbon transfers to papier–mâché, lightboxes, filmstrips, plaster, and more—the spring season created a larger mess across a bigger selection of projects than almost any series of workshops we’ve held here before! Artist Yashua Klos, a long-time MoMA Teens collaborator, spent his entire 10-week season exploring different aspects of printmaking and stencil production, working to create a series of immense final projects utilizing a variety of hand-carved, large-scale woodblock prints. Titled Corpus Collectus: Breaking Up Bodies Using Large-Scale Stencils and Prints, the series explored the human body through the exquisite corpse technique along with all of our various anatomical parts, pieces, and sections. Final anatomical images are being combined into large-scale banners, creating bodies unlike no other on earth.
In between all of these incredible first experiences, the courses were enhanced by visits from a variety of guest artists and musicians as well. Guest artist Jaimie Warren ran a four-session project in collaboration with the I AM a God! participants, exploring the superficial look of celebrity identities using a variety of quick and easy makeup effects and costume changes to transform the class into a variety of famous figures. Danny DeVito rubbed shoulders with Steve Jobs and Divine, as Jaimie and the teens threw themselves into their newly crafted identities, crafting a series of photos and a final performance-based piece as well.
On the musical side of things, CLICK@MoMA: Spatial/Augmented/Reality brought in the rap duo OLDGOLD, who performed an incredible set for the assembled crowd. The performance was followed up by an introductory workshop around music production, elements that will come to play in the participant’s final video/audio/sculptural installation pieces.
After all that insanity, this week marks the final sessions of the spring 2015 season of In the Making courses. It was a blur of activity…hard to believe that we won’t be meeting every Tuesday and Thursday anymore. Hard to believe that we survived it at all, fingers and sanity intact. On this Friday, April 10 at 5:00 p.m. we will be opening the doors of The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building for the Spring 2015 In the Making Art Show opening party, celebrating the artwork and community created over the course of the past 10 weeks. All of the projects mentioned above, and dozens more, will be on display to the public. The young artists who created them will be there, along with a variety of artists, friends, families, educators, supporters, MoMA staff, and more. We extend our heartfelt invitation to you to swing by the event, see the artwork in person, have some food and drinks, and join us in our amazement of what these incredible teens have accomplished. It’s the end of our spring In the Making season, but as they move into the next phase of their creative lives…it’s pretty clear that these young artists are just getting started.
The In the Making Spring 2015 Teen Art Show will be on view from April 10 through May 12 in The Lewis B and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building, located at 4 West 54 Street. Special thanks to Jaimie Warren, Matt Roche, and OLDGOLD. Extra special thanks to Kaitlyn Stubbs, Sophie Grant, Rotem Linial, Brandon Ndife, Adam Parker Smith, Ali Santana, Rafia Santana, Christopher Lin, and Yashua Klos.